William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas


[TOC] [part 4] [part 2] [Cutler's History]


There was no division of the county into civil townships until 1867, when on April 3, of that year, the County Commissioners divided it into five townships, as follows:

The territory described as follows, constituted Newbern Township. Commencing at the southwest corner of the county, thence east on the south line of county to the southwest corner of Section 34, Township 16, Range 5; thence north of Smoky Hill River, thence west along said river to west line of county, and thence south to place of beginning.

Union Township embraced the following described territory: Beginning at the southwest corner of Section 35, Township 16, Range 3, thence east to southeast corner of the county, thence north to the Smoky Hill River, thence west along said river to the east line of Newbern Township, and thence south on said line to place of beginning. These two townships embraced all that portion of territory lying south of Smoky Hill River, which is more than half the county.

Grant Township commenced at the northwest corner of Township 11, Range 2, thence south on the range line to the Smoky Hill River, thence east along the river to the west line of Section 2, Township 13, Range 3, thence north on the section line to south line of township 11, Range 3, thence west to east line of Range 2, thence north to north line of county, and thence west to place of beginning.

Sherman Township commenced at the northwest corner of Township 11, Range 3, thence south to north line of Township 12, thence east on town line to southwest corner of Section 35, Township 11, Range 3, thence south to the Smoky Hill River, thence east on said river to the east line of the county, thence north on the east line of the county to the northeast corner of the county, and thence west to the place of beginning.

Lincoln Township commenced at the northwest corner of the county, thence south on west line of county to the Smoky Hill River, thence east along the river to the east line of Range 1, thence north on said east line to north line of county and thence west to place of beginning.

By this division three townships were established north of the river and two south. Whilst the territory north of the Smoky Hill is considerable less than that south, yet at that time, the few settlers that were in the county were located, chiefly, north of the stream. Each of the three northern townships extended from the river to the north line of the county, and each of them had an embryo town, Chapman on the east, Abilene in the center and Solomon City on the west. A new township, to which was given the name of Lamb, was organized, November 6, 1869, embracing a part of what is now Cheever, Buckeye, Grant, Newbern, Ridge, Union, Liberty, three-fourths of Noble, nearly all of Sherman, and all of Hayes, Center and Logan. It was nine miles east and west, and twenty-six miles north and south, and completely spoiled the symmetrical proportions of all the other townships excepting Lincoln. On January 5, 1870, just two months after its formation, the boundary lines of Lamb Township were changed, and in changes that were made subsequently, it lost its identity altogether.

Ridge Township was organized February 20, 1872, and comprised Townships 15 and 16, Range 3, but subsequently it was subdivided, and 15 was made Hope Township.

Willowdale Township was organized February 21, 1872, and comprised Townships 11 and 12, Range 1, by which formation Lincoln was nearly obliterated.

On March 15, 1873, a general reorganization of townships took place, by which old boundary lines were wiped out, and new ones created.

Holland Township comprised Townships 14, 15 and 16, Range 1 east.

Buckeye Township comprised Township 12, Range 2 east.

Sherman Township comprised Township 11, Ranges 3 and 4 east.

Liberty Township comprised Townships 13 and 14, Range 4 east and that portion of 14, Range 5 east, belonging to Dickinson County.

Lincoln Township was made to comprise Township 13, Range 1 east.

Union township was comprised of Townships 15 and 16, Range 4 east.

Newbern Township was composed of Township 14, Ranges 2 and 3 east.

Grant Township was cut down to Township 13, Range 2 east.

Center Township was created and comprised Township 13, Range 3 east.

Cheever Township was formed of Township 11, Range 3 east.

Noble Township comprised township 12, Ranges 3 and 4 east.

Jefferson Township was made to consist of Townships 15 and 16, Range 2 east.

On April 10, 1877, other townships were created by changing the boundary lines.

Banner Township was taken from the south of Jefferson, and is composed of Township 16, Range 2 east.

Logan Township was taken from the east of Newbern, and consists of Township 14, Range 3 east.

Hayes Township was taken from the west of Noble, and comprises the west five miles of Township 12, Range 3 east.

Wheatland Township was created on January 9, 1878, by taking Townships 14 and 15, Range 1 east, from Holland.

Flora Township was established in 1879, by a division of Willowdale, giving Town 11, Range 1 to the former, and Town 12, Range 1 to the latter.

Fragrant Hill Township was created February 10, 1880, by dividing Sherman north and south, and giving the west half to the former.

Garfield Township was organized September, 1882, by dividing Wheatland east and west, and giving the north half to Garfield.

The foregoing is the history of the organization of the various townships in the county as at present constituted, of which there are twenty-two in all.


For ten or twelve years after the county was organized its population increased very slowly, and it could not well be otherwise. The county was then on the extreme west of civilization, and was part of that vast plain set down by some geographers as the "Great American Desert". Up until 1866 there was not a foot of railway in the county, and the long distances settlers had to go to mill and market were detriments to impede settlement. When it finally did take a start the population increased with wonderful rapidity, and although the ravages of the grasshoppers in 1874 gave it a temporary check, it soon recovered and grew more rapidly than ever. In 1860 the county had a population of 378; in 1870 it was 3,043; and increase in ten years of 2,665, or an average of 266% per year. Fully three-fourths of this increase occurred after the completion of the Kansas Pacific Railway through the county, or between 1866 and 1870. In 1875 the population of the county was 6,841, being an increase in five years of 3,798, or 1,133 greater than the increase during the preceding ten years. In 1878 another census was taken and at that time, too, notwithstanding the temporary check immigration received from the grasshopper raid of 1874. The United States census of 1880 gives the population of the county at 15,070, showing an increase in two years of 4,220, this being 211 more than the increase for the three preceding years. The census taken by the various assessors in the spring of 1882 sets the population down at 15,693, and now, November, 1882, it is estimated at not less than 16,000.

It is by the material growth of a county that the prosperity of the people can best be judged. The evidences of material advancement are to be seen on every hand, in beautiful, well stocked farms, fine houses and commodious barns; in thriving towns and villages; in the mills and manufactories; in numerous schoolhouses and churches, and in the general prosperity that seems to accompany all branches of business. That Dickinson County has advanced wonderfully in material growth is best shown by statistics. Referring to these it is found that in 1860 all the live stock in the county was included in 23 head of horses, 3 mules, 7 sheep, and 105 head of cattle. Ten years later, 1870, the value of the agricultural products of the county alone amounted to $171,882. In 1872 the total acreage of field crops was 38,448; in 1873 it was 43,264.53; in 1874 it was 51,887. This was the year of the great grasshopper invasion, when the people of Kansas were rendered so destitute that a great many of the people had to received aid and assistance from those of other States, but notwithstanding this, the acreage of field crops for the following year, 1875, exceeded that of 1874 by 19,124.12,, the total for that year being 71.011.12. In 1876 it was 88,825.60; in 1877 it was 133,510.46; in 1878 it was 166,002.06; in 1879 it was 185,483.61, and in 1880 it had reached 217,197.74. A better understanding of how the county has grown in material wealth may be had by comparing the value of products of 1870 with that of 1880. In the former year it was only $171,882, while the latter reached to $1,832,537.64, showing an increase in ten years of $1,660,655.64. That the material wealth of the county is increasing largely each year may be seen by comparing the live stock in the county in 1880 with that of 1882.

Year.                   1880.  1882.
Horses.                6,667  7,573
Mules & Asses.         1,024  1,006
Cows.                  5,136  5,329
Other Cattle.          7,388 13,076
Sheep.                 7,644 26,754
Swine.                24,552 24,547

The large increase in cattle and sheep shows clearly that the people are becoming alive to how profitably stock-raising and sheep raising can be carried on where there is an abundance of rich pasture, pure water and wide ranges, and in all these Dickinson County excels. The number of acres in cultivated farms in 1882 was 385,749, valued at $4,014,473. There were erected 251 farm dwellings during the year ending March 1, 1882, valued at $74,329. The total acreage of field crops in 1882 was 241,450, an increase of 24,252.26 over that of 1880. The value of garden products sold in 1880 was $11,255; in 1882 it was $11,733. The value of poultry and eggs sold in 1880 was $14,443, as against $26,897 in 1882. The value of animals slaughtered, or sold for slaughter, in 1880, was $177,861, whereas, in 1882, they amounted in value to $286,147. The amount of wool clipped from sheep in the county in 1880, aggregated 25,368 pounds, whereas, in 1882, it reached 58,479 pounds. The vast increase in the two last items alone show with what gigantic strides the people of the count are marching to material prosperity. The product of butter in 1880 was 296,589 pounds, and in 1882 it was 400,176, an increase in two years of 103,587 pounds. There were cut in 1881 500 tons of tame hay, and 43,865 tons of prairie hay, representing a value of at least $221,825. Other evidences of the material prosperity of the county are shown in the advancement of arboriculture and horticulture. Forest trees have been planted to the extent of 4,220 acres, and over 100 acres are devoted to nurseries.. The number of apple trees in bearing, according to the assessor's returns for 1882, was 13,760; pear trees in bearing, according to the assessor's returns for 1882, was 13,760; pear trees 2,295; peach trees, 207,174; plum trees, 23,249, and cherry trees 9,296. The number not in bearing was: apple 37,185, pear 2,963, peach 130,697, plum 13,102, and cherry 23,723. Over 100 acres were devoted to the culture of strawberries, raspberries and grapes. Of fence there were in the county, in 1882, of board, 24,316 rods; of rail, 3,012 rods; of stone, 22,699 rods; hedge, 411,900, and wire, 100,191, or an aggregate of 562,118, representing a value of nearly three-fourths of a million of dollars, and $200,000 more is represented by the agricultural implements in the county. The foregoing statistics ought to be sufficient evidence to satisfy any one of the growth of Dickinson county in material wealth.


There is only one railroad in the county, the Kansas Pacific, which runs across the entire county from eat to west. It follows the course of the Smoky Hill River, and runs along its north bank, some places touching the very margin of the stream and at others being two or three miles from it, owing to the windings of the river. It enters the county at the southeast corner of Noble Township, and passes through the towns of Chapman, Detroit, Abilene and passes out of the county on the west at Solomon City. The road was built through the county in 1866.

The educational interests of the county are in keeping with the general progress and advancement of the other interests of the county. The schoolhouses are all in good condition and the sites are fenced. Nearly all of the school buildings are located on the prairie, and although located in these exposed positions, but very few have taken any steps to ornament the grounds by setting out shade trees. Inside, however, the buildings are well seated, and well supplied with maps, charts, globes, dictionaries and other school apparatus. There are at present (1882), one hundred and twelve school districts in the county, and 114 schoolhouses, of which number three are constructed of brick, eight of stone, and 103 of wood. The school population of the county in 1882, between the ages five and twenty-one years, was 5,503, divided as to sex into 2,833 males and 2,670 females. The number of pupils enrolled in the public schools during the year was 4,701, of which 2,397 were males and 2,304 females. The average daily attendance was 2,757, divided into males, 1,334, and females, 1,423. The total number of teachers employed during the year was 133, of which sixty-five were males and sixty-eight females. The average salary per month paid to teachers was, males $36, females $31.50. Besides the 114 public schools, in the county there are two private schools, giving employment to three male teachers, the pupils of which number 140. School bonds were issued during the year to the amount of $13,600, and the total bonded indebtedness of the various school districts in the county was $31,820. A tax of twelve and half mills was levied for all school purposes, and the estimated value of all school property in the county, including buildings and grounds, was $95,000. There was in the hands of the District Treasurer, on August 1, 1881, $4,959.45, and the receipts during the year amounted to $57,578.30 making a total of $62,537.75. The expenditures during the year amounted to $45,713.29, so that on August 1, 1882, the amount in the hands of the District Treasurer was $16,824.46. Whilst there are only 114 schoolhouses in the county, there are 130 schoolrooms, which arises from the fact that the school buildings in Abilene, Solomon city, Enterprise and Chapman, contain two, or more rooms. The schoolhouse in Abilene, which has just been greatly enlarged to meet the demands of the community, is a large, elegant brick building and would be an ornament to any city.

Aside from the churches already mentioned, there are two at Chapman, one catholic and one Methodist, and also one Catholic about a mile south of Chapman. In Union Township there two, one German Lutheran, valued at $2,500, and one German Baptist, valued at $2,000. In Liberty Township there are two, one German Methodist, valued at $2,500 and one Methodist, valued at $4,000. In Center Township, aside from those in Enterprise, there are two, both Swede, one Lutheran, valued at $1,800, and one Free Church, valued at $1,600.

In Hope Township there is one, Catholic, valued at $800.

In Banner Township there is one, German Lutheran, valued at $2,500.

In Jefferson Township there are two, one Lutheran, valued at $2,000, and one Baptist, valued at $1,000.

In Wheatland Township there is one, United Presbyterian, valued at $1,200.

In Garfield Township there is one, Presbyterian, valued at $1,800.

In all, there are twenty-nine church buildings and in the county, all of which are located south of the Smoky Hill River, excepting those in Chapman, Abilene, and Solomon City. In the territory north of the river there are a good many church organizations that meet for worship in the various schoolhouses. In addition to all these the River Brethren have two church organizations both of which are numerically strong.

There are four newspapers published in the county, of which the following is a history.

The Chronicle. - This is a weekly paper, published at Abilene. It was established February, 1870, by V. P. Wilson, and with him as sole editor and proprietor. Mr. Wilson was the prime mover in organizing the Buckeye Colony, and was chiefly instrumental in getting it to locate in Dickinson County. He continued to run the Chronicle until May, 1873, when he sold it to Henry & Lebold, at which time J. W. Hart became editor. Subsequently Henry & Lebold sold the paper to the Dickinson county Publishing Association, Mr. Hart still retaining the editorship. Some time later the paper was sold to Hart & Simpson, after which Simpson disposed of his interest to Hart, who is now sold editor and proprietor. It is published weekly, four pages, eight columns, Republican in politics, and has a circulation of 1,000.

The Gazette. - Is published at Abilene, and was established December, 1874, by V. P. Wilson & Sons, who became, and continue to be, sole editors and proprietors. The paper is printed on a steam power Potter press. It is issued on Thursday of each week, four pages, nine columns, is Republican in politics, and has a circulation of 1,800.

Solomon Gazette. - Is published at Solomon City, and was established July, 1879, by J. Claude Hill, and with him as sole editor and proprietor, which he still continues to be. It is a weekly, four gapes, eight columns, Independent in politics, and has a circulation of 700.

Enterprise Register. - Is published at Enterprise, and was established in March, 1882, by the Enterprise Publishing Company, with J. D. James, as editor, who continued to edit the paper until June, 1882, when he was succeeded by J. H. Brady, the present editor. The paper is a weekly, four pages, eight columns, Independent Republican in politics, and its circulation is 900.

[TOC] [part 4] [part 2] [Cutler's History]